Sex and the City 2, you might want to see if your Gay Card has expired. This sophomore outing with the girls is in every way the most over-the-top fabulous event of the year. In many ways, it is a lot better than the original. It’s been just two years since the last film and as Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) puts it, a lot has happened.
In a sidesplitting opening, Carrie reminisces about when she came to New York in 1986 and in a flash, we see her (in hilarious Glenn Close-Fatal Attraction hair) in all her 80’s non-glory. She then describes when she met Charlotte (Kristin Davis), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), and Samantha (a punked out Kim Cattrall), all of whom get their own flashback of shame. It’s a smart way for writer/director Michael Patrick King to introduce us to the girls, who still have a fantastic chemistry together. Then comes the gay wedding ...
As Charlotte exclaims, “Her best gay friend is marrying my best gay friend!” Sure enough, Mario Cantone’s Anthony is marrying Willie Garson’s Stanford in the whitest, most-gilded and beyond garish wedding of all time. A hot men's choir belts out show tunes and just when you think it can’t get any gayer, Liza Minnelli bursts out to officiate and do Beyoncé’s "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)". Ah, heaven.
Meanwhile, Carrie’s married life with Mr. Big (Chris Noth) is getting too comfy-stale, Charlotte’s two young daughters are driving her crazy (and her smokin’ hot nanny won’t wear a bra), Miranda’s high-powered job is being derailed by a sexist boss, and Samantha is fighting Menopause tooth and nail (and bedding the groom’s sexy brother) with the help of Suzanne Somers. In other words, they need a vacation.
Off to Abu Dhabi they jet, and the opulence never stops. I worried that sending four sexually liberated women into the most repressive culture on earth might be a sick joke, but that’s sort of the point. The film doesn’t ignore the Arabic world’s treatment of women, and reality intrudes on the happiness. There is even a priceless “F-you” scene where a hormonally charged Samantha tells off a bunch of morally offended men in a marketplace that will have you cheering through your tears of laughter. Carrie has a crisis of trust and Charlotte and Miranda get some heart-to-heart time to bare all about the difficulties of motherhood. Oh, and of course there are shirtless Aussie rugby players and an insanely seductive Dane (Max Ryan) thrown in for good measure.
The writing in Sex and the City 2 is crisp, sharp-tongued and full of quotable lines, including Samantha’s “He’s Lawrence of my labia!” It is a perfect sequel, lighter and freer than the first movie and full of what we know and love about these women, who feel like our friends.
However, I was a little put off by Cantone’s clumsy declaration “and I get to cheat.” at his own wedding celebration. Can’t gay marriages be portrayed as valid a little bit before being torpedoed by the old “We’re gay and we can’t be monogamous” cliché? I also fear any women who decide to emulate the girls and fly off to the Middle East. No matter what the film shows, there are plenty of better (and less oppressive and dangerous) places for Cosmo-sipping, sex-talk loving gals to go.
For now, ladies, don ye now your gay apparel, Manolos and all, and get thee to Sex and the City 2. It’s the party of the summer.
UPDATE: Sex and the City 2 is now available on DVD and Blu-ray from Amazon.com.
Review by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.